Majority of public submissions oppose cruise pier construction

An overwhelming majority of those who responded during a public consultation on the proposed cruise berthing project oppose the $150 million plan for new piers in George Town harbor.

An overwhelming majority of those who responded during a public consultation on the proposed cruise berthing project oppose the $150 million plan for new piers in George Town harbor. 

Of the 473 public comments received by the Department of Environment, 347 objected to the project, 111 expressed support, and 15 were either neutral or undecided. 

The supporting votes appear to be heavily skewed by a mass response from the employees of Kirk Freeport, who accounted for 85 of the “yes” votes. Many of the anti-port responses come from dive industry workers, though the only other “block vote” appears to have come from pupils at Montessori by the Sea school, where 13 youngsters wrote to object to the port. 

The consultation exercise, though it brought out strong emotions on both sides, was not intended as a referendum on the pier project. 

Wendy Williams, environmental assessment officer with the Department of Environment, said the main point was to get public feedback on the environmental impact assessment and ensure all concerns had been adequately addressed and explained. She said more general feedback and views on the project would still be included with the environmental statement to assist Cabinet in the decision-making process. 

- Advertisement -

An analysis of the public responses, compiled by consultants Baird and Associates, concludes that the issue has “polarized the community.” 

The public responses, printed in full in a 1,000-page document released Monday, largely reflect the public debate over the proposal to build two new cruise piers in George Town harbor. 

The majority of those in opposition are connected to the marine and water sports industry or are tourists who cite concerns about damage to reefs and dive sites. 

Those supporting the project are largely from the local retail community, the consultants note. 

A breakdown of the responses, solicited as part of the environmental impact assessment process, suggests the “no” vote resonated more strongly with tourists. 

Of the 347 respondents who objected to the project, 142 were residents and 205 were visitors. Of the 111 respondents in favor, 110 were residents and one was a visitor. 

Much of the opposition focused on the adverse impact on the reefs and wrecks in George Town harbor. 

Many of those in opposition to the project suggest it will do irreparable damage to the primary attraction that brings tourists to the Cayman Islands – its marine environment. 

Some raised concerns about the cost and feasibility of a proposal to relocate the coral and the historic Balboa shipwreck in an effort to offset the environmental damage. 

Of particular concern to tourists was the potential impact on the Eden Rock, Devil’s Grotto and Cheeseburger Reef dive sites. 

Others raised concerns that the Cayman Islands’ infrastructure would not be able to handle the influx of tourists anticipated by those pushing for cruise piers in the capital. 

Opponents of the pier also queried whether the economic impact would be worth the expense, suggesting most of the jobs associated with pier construction would go to work permit holders. The consultant’s conclusion that the project represented no threat to Seven Mile Beach was also questioned by some respondents in the consultation process. 

Those in support of the project focused on the impact on the economy. 

Some respondents cast doubt on the amount of coral habitat likely to be affected by the project. 

The majority of respondents to a Department of Environment survey about the proposal to develop cruise ship piers in George Town oppose the measure. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

The majority of respondents to a Department of Environment survey about the proposal to develop cruise ship piers in George Town oppose the measure. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT
- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now


  1. I also looked through at the actual responses and I’m not sure how several of them were counted as Kirk Freeport employees seeing as there is no designation as such on the sheet. Go take a look at the DOE download.

  2. I’m a person who didn’t voted. I was not aware of the polling. Did they go and ask the taxis and bus operators there on the dock a good day to ask is when there is more then 1 ship. Otherwise hardly anyone will show up cause there is very little business. Try taking a poll on a busy day when most of people in town. I would think that a poll on a computer is bias because most taxi and bus operators don’t have a computer or read the newspaper .If they did you would have 500 more votes . What about the stingray city people ? Think the votes would have went the other way.

  3. I would like to know the financial impact of the loss of cruise ship passengers if the ship owners and management decided to by-pass Grand Cayman for Havana? Has a Feasibility Study been conducted to ascertain the impact of such a scenario?

  4. That’s a bunch of none sense. Most people are for this dock, they are probably suffering from Dock fatigue 10 years in the making.

    This whole "Dock will destroy the environment and the reefs" is utter none sense. The foot print is relatively small. Reefs surround the entire island, the dive industry will not falter in anyway, this is massive exaggeration and purely fear mongering. the subs will still have plenty reef to take tourists around.

    The silt will not linger on, the dock is piratically in open ocean. Also silt is based on the type of sand/soil is on the ocean floor. the docks is rock and sand and deep water, minimal silt. there will be no silt, just like there is no silt today despite all the continual daily boat traffic. Look at the north sound for example, no dock, and plenty of silt every low tides! YET, despite the daily silt, the reefs survived.

    The cruise ships have been already tearing up the reefs! The dock would minimize the continued damage.

    The dock (if anything at all), would LESSEN beach erosion as it breaks up near shore rip tides and waves which is the real cause of beach erosion. Educate yourself, the Bahamas built piers to stop precisely this! Have done it for decades.

    The fact that this project is still contested with absolute utter rubbish arguments shows how incredibly backwards we are as a nation. we are governed by a bunch of feel good politics and foreign extremist tree huggers. And we continue to allow this at our own demise.

    the reefs are GOING NO WHERE. nor at the fish, nor are the conchs or the lobsters. Not because of a dock, or the humans on this island.

    the reality is that the earth, cayman reefs, cayman fish, and the rest of nature don’t need the tree hugging doomsday prophets. The reefs existed without them, they will continue to do so.

    Build the [email protected]#$%^& dock already!

  5. Government: Please grow a pair! and do what you were elected to do, and that’s not to pander to every emotional diatribe and protest of every sort, and build the dock ffs! Just do it.

    This has become a complete joke.

  6. I realize that this is a loaded subject and there are people on both sides of this issue that I greatly admire and respect. Its reasonable to assume that all of those against the new dock are filled with passion and purpose, so they voted.

    Everybody else didn’t feel enough concern to vote at all. That works out to only about 1.1% of the Caymanian population strongly opposed to the new dock. Now I know this is funkie math but the point that I’m making is that people also vote with their apathy.

    Frankly I don’t see how Cayman can survive the next 200 years without a much bigger dock. Not sure where the alternative location is? North Sound, East End, Red Bay?? It will have to go somewhere.

  7. I think that this is a very serious issue to the feature of the Islands. We have to put our personal differences, and personal interest aside when we talk about this issue, because this is the feature of the Islands and the environment and the next-generation, these 2 cannot speak for themselves so that’s why we need to make the best decision. I say no to the cruise ship berthing.

  8. I am a diver and spend 5 months on Cayman diving 4-5 days a week. I am as concerned as anyone that the reefs are not destroyed. It is not fair to talk about the harbor diving and the Balboa. It can only be dived when there are no ships in the harbor. That is almost never. We should do everything possible to protect Devil’s Grotto. We that all said there are hundreds of Cayman worker that live off the cruise ships. Are we going to put all of them out of work???

  9. Why is it that the only location that has even been considered for the DOCK is in George Town. With all the money being spent on studies why not have one look at the whole coastline and investigate what the best location with the least amount of impact to the environment would be.

    Why are they all dead set on it being in GT or Nowhere else ? I do believe that one of the PPM Campaign promises was to only consider the GT location, why’s that ?